The conservation safaris at Jaci’s Lodges are designed to help everyday bush lovers contribute to on-the-ground wildlife conservation efforts taking place in the greater Madikwe Game Reserve.

The safari initiative includes exhilarating involvement in wildlife safeguarding efforts within the reserve, such as notching and microchipping rhino, collaring lions and buffalo, collecting genetic material to help record, track and protect Africa’s endangered wildlife, branding lions and gathering information for North West Parks Board field rangers to help effectively manage Madikwe’s core species of lion, rhino and wild dog.

Meet the conservation safari team

Each conservation safari is lead by a team of professionals:

A helicopter pilot skilled in low-level flying, will hover over the animal, allowing the vet a clear and steady shot. The pilot often needs to dart around trees and hills and may have to herd a targeted animal to a specific area.

A wildlife veterinarian with specific training in immobilising wild animals and knowledge of their habitat, stress levels and other factors that may affect the outcome of the procedures.

Field rangers who assist the team in doing the job quickly and efficiently. They help gather essential data and record the details of each individual animal, all of which contributes to the successful outcome of a conservation safari.

Elephant Satellite Collaring

The conservation and protection of our precious wildlife environment could not be possible without the invaluable information we can gain from insights provided by various methods of in-depth research. One such method is the Satellite Collaring of some of our Elephants and at Jaci’s Lodges we encourage our guests to get involved, conservation safari experiences are part of our offering.

As passionate supporters of this undertaking, we have teamed up with Animal Behaviour and Welfare PhD Candidate, Isabelle Szott (Resident Researcher until June 2017) and are extending an invitation to our guests to become sponsors, and join her on an integral part of the collaring process whilst enjoying an up-close and personal first hand experience with these magical animals.

This fantastic, once in a lifetime opportunity will include accompanying Isabelle as she and her Professional team either remove an old tracking collar or replace a new one. Old tracking collars are refurbished for so that they can be used again. An on-site veterinarian will provide a detailed briefing on the process of darting the animal in order to remove or replace the collar and Isabelle will be on hand for a Q&A session as well as the presentation of her research thus far.

The Elephant will be darted via helicopter, after which guests will have the opportunity to photograph the animal as well as witness the removal or replacement of the satellite collar. All proceeds generated from this conservation safari experience will be donated directly towards the purchase of the much needed new African Wildlife Tracking satellite collars and will cover the associated vet and helicopter costs.

The total cost involved in this venture is estimated at approximately R70 000.00 which needs to be paid 4 weeks prior to the date of the collaring process. We believe that the necessity of this research more than justifies the cost implications.

Jaci’s Lodges is proud to be associated with this venture and will be doing everything we can to assist in the research which will ultimately lead to the conservation of our special Elephant population.

African Wild Dog Relocation

The African wild dog is a highly endangered predator, the the icon of Madikwe Game Reserve and our lodge’s logo.  They need a lot of space, as they traverse and hunt over vast areas and are therefor only found in larger parks and reserves.

It is normally only the alpha pair that breeds and the other pack members help bring up the pups and provide food. Dispersal takes place when a few individuals, of the same sex, break away to find a breakaway group, of the opposite sex, from another pack to join up with, thus establishing a new pack. Since they aren’t territorial, dogs from the North West could potentially make it all the way to Kruger, Kwazulu Natal or even eastern Africa with ease, if there were no fences. Most wild dogs live in the larger reserves and parks, which are fenced in and therefore don’t have the opportunity of naturally dispersing, hence they need some help in doing so and keeping the gene pool of the population healthy.

Ecologists and field guides in Madikwe identified a handful of males breaking away from the main pack about two years ago and it was an excellent opportunity for relocation to another reserve, in the Northern Cape. They were temporarily put in an enclosure for monitoring, while waiting for the transfer go-ahead. It seemed like a rather straight forward procedure, but unfortunately the initial plans didn’t work out and the brothers were kept under surveillance, awaiting another opportunity.

Many of the guides in the Madikwe Game Reserve have been following these dogs which have been kept in the enclosure over the last 2 years, it’s been for the greater good of the population that they have been separated so as to avoid the risk of inbreeding. We have therefor kept our fingers crossed, hoping for them to soon find a permanent home.

A request for guests wanting to assist with the capture and transfer was made from The Parks Board, and thankfully guests and friends of Jaci’s Lodges quickly stepped in to become sponsors and help with the financial side of things. Finally a concrete plan was in place.

At seven o’clock on a chilly and overcast morning in mid-June, two guides and five guests met with the head ecologist in Madikwe, a veterinarian and a few field rangers, just outside the enclosure that had been the dogs’ home for the better part of two years.

Some clever strategising made it possible to dart the dogs with as little disruption as possible.The mixture of drugs that they are darted with makes them lose memory of approximately 30 minutes from before they are darted, preventing them from feeling the effects of stress that is associated with being handled by humans.

Guests and guides alike, are grateful to have been part of this experience and to learn that these three brothers would be on their way to a life in freedom. They will now be taken to Mkuzi Game Reserve in Kwazulu Natal to join up with a female. Once they’re successfully acquainted and settled, they will once again be roaming free, hunting and benefiting from their new surroundings.

Photography: Anja Riise

Why is it important to notch rhinos?

Each rhino’s ears are notched with a unique pattern to give the individual a “number” for easy identification.

In additon to notching, genetic material is also collected – microchips are inserted in both horns as well as the hump on the rhino’s neck, the sex is noted and the estimated age, weight and measurements of the horns and body are taken.

Should the rhino be poached and the horn recovered, these details will enable prosecutors to accurately identify the origin of the horn and will assisit in providing concrete evidence in the trials of both the rhino poachers and wildlife traffickers.

View the Rates